4 climate headlines we’re looking forward to in 2021

By Atiya Jaffar, Senior Digital Specialist with 350 Canada

Photo Credit: Allan Lissner

1. People power stops the last tar sands pipelines

Currently, two major (and highly controversial) tar sands pipelines are under construction: Keystone XL (KXL), stretching south from Alberta into the United States, and Trans Mountain (TMX), travelling west from Alberta to BC’s southern coastline. And their fate has never been quite so uncertain.

The writing seems to be on the wall for Keystone. President-Elect Biden has remained steadfast in his commitment to cancel the project as soon as he steps into office. Thousands of Canadians have taken action to make sure he keeps his promise.

It’s a slightly different story for Trans Mountain, which Prime Minister Trudeau still staunchly supports. His government did buy the pipeline back in 2018 after all. But now, even Trudeau’s own advisors are turning against the project. At the tail end of 2020, two government agencies, the Canada Energy Regulator and the Parliamentary Budget Office, released reports confirming that Trans Mountain is incompatible with further action on the climate emergency. The business case for TMX is getting weaker everyday. And every opposition party, except the Conservatives, is vocally critical of the project. It will only get harder and harder for Trudeau to justify spending billions of tax dollars on this project. 2021 could be the year to cancel TMX once and for all.

Photo Credit: Nhattan Nguyen

2. Core pillars of a Green New Deal pass in Parliament with cross-partisan support

Over the course of 2020, the movement for a Green New Deal saw some major gains. For one thing, Trudeau himself has committed to creating a million new green jobs. A Green Jobs Guarantee is one of the core pillars of a Green New Deal and tying a specific job creation number to climate action is a step in that direction. Now, it’s about time these commitments are legislated into action. In 2021, we want to see Canadian politicians work across party lines to bring a full-fledged Green New Deal into reality. This moment demands bold action to re-tool the economy to tackle the climate crisis and inequality at the same time, while creating millions of jobs, respecting Indigenous rights, and enshrining dignity for all.

MPs have started to lay the groundwork. Peter Julian’s Motion 1 specifically calls for a Green New Deal and is gathering cross-partisan support. Bloc MP Kristina Michaud’s Bill C-215 proposes a clear plan and strong accountability measures to decarbonize Canada’s economy. The policy ideas are coming together and COVID-19 has shown us that, with the necessary political will, our governments are capable of meeting a crisis at the scale it demands. It’s about time they met the scale of the climate emergency with a Green New Deal.

Photo Credit: Vjosana Shkurti

3. Canada’s climate advisory committee kicks Big Oil executives and lobbyists to the curb

A key piece of legislation that our government will vote on in 2021 is Bill C-12, Canada’s first net-zero emissions act. One of the things this policy seeks to do is establish a climate advisory committee that will support the government with meeting its climate commitments. Unfortunately, the door is currently open for Big Oil to join this committee and weaken climate action policy. Luckily, thousands of people across the country have started to speak up, demanding elected leaders to kick Big Oil to the curb. And it’s starting to work. Some of the most courageous climate champions in Parliament have already voiced their support for excluding fossil fuel executives and lobbyists from the advisory body — let’s hope others follow suit.

4. Countries ramp up climate commitments at global summit as millions march for climate action

Recently, President-Elect Biden announced his plans to hold a global climate summit within his first 100 days in office. This will be as good as a chance as any for governments around the world, including Canada, to ramp up the climate commitments they made 5 years ago when the Paris Climate Agreement was signed. Of course, we know that politicians will only demonstrate this kind of leadership if people demand it. We anticipate this will be a moment for global mass mobilization to demand action on the climate emergency. We sure are ready for it. Are you?

Photo Credit: Vjosana Shkurti

Pushing Canada to take real #climate leadership by freezing #tarsands and keeping fossil fuels in the ground. We're part of a global climate justice movement.